Elite Investment Club's Graham Rowan tells us why we're wrong about risk

By Tempus | 12 Sep 2018 | Wealth

Financial expert Graham Rowan says great risks can bring even greater rewards

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* Financial expert Graham Rowan asks, what’s the safest place to park your money – putting your cash in the bank or investing in the stock market?

What if I told you that 99% of the population is dead wrong in what they think about financial risk? So deeply ingrained is the fake news in their head that they go through life making one wrong decision after another, with painful results for their net worth.

Graham Rowan, Chairman of Elite Investor Club, a global network of high net worth investors, he didn’t beat around the bush: “It’s now more than 20 years since Robert Kiyosaki wrote his seminal book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and most people would still say their home is an asset. Robert was the first to clarify that an asset puts money in your pocket while a liability takes money out. So your house, cars and all the other 'doodads’ you blow your cash on are liabilities – not assets.”

So then what’s the safest place to park your money – putting your cash in the bank or investing in the stock market? Take a survey of 100 people walking down the street and it's fair to assume most would say cash in the bank is safe and playing the markets is risky. Shaun Prince, founder of boutique investment firm MJS Capital Plc, begs to differ. “Most people don’t realise that, when you pay your cash into the bank, it’s no longer your money," he said." And, as we saw in Cyprus and Greece, if the banks or the government don’t want you to get your hands on it, they can simply switch off the ATMs”.

Rowan agrees: “We have a century of data to show that, if you can stomach the ups and downs, in the long-term stocks and shares will give you a return of around 6-7% a year. Cash doesn’t come close, especially in these days of 400-year low interest rates. We’ve now got the same type of law in place in the UK as in Greece and Cyprus so, not only do you receive a pathetic 0.1% interest on your cash, when the next crisis comes you’ll be at risk of a haircut along with the bank’s shareholders and bondholders."

So, if banks give poor returns and we think the stock market is dangerous, no wonder most Brits put their money into bricks and mortar. Trouble is, the property market is changing fast and is no longer the ‘can’t lose’ investment it used to be, as Prince explains.

“For reasons no one seems to understand there’s been a concerted attack on private landlords by successive Conservative governments. A 3% Stamp Duty penalty is irritating, but the elephant in the room is Section 24," he said. "The changes to how you claim tax relief on mortgage payments will make many Buy-To-Let investments unprofitable and will hammer people who thought they’d done the smart thing for their retirement."

The new rules don’t apply to commercial properties such as hotels and care homes, while there are still some useful tax perks from owning holiday let apartments. So it may pay to look at bricks and mortar of a different kind as a core holding in your portfolio. The other option for sophisticated and high net worth investors is to look for products that are designed to offer above market returns but with security for investors that greatly de-risk the project.

Rowan analyses lots of these kind of products on behalf of his members and has some key characteristics that he looks for. “If it’s a bond or loan note supporting a property development, I want to know that planning permission is in place and that, if possible, investors can hold a first legal charge on the property and a debenture over the company’s assets. If it’s a bond trading on the currency markets, I look for an arbitrage model where you are exploiting price differences between currencies rather than taking a view on whether, say, the pound is going to rise or fall against the dollar. With algorithm-based trading you only deal when you can see an immediate profit, so you eliminate the risk of 99% of trading strategies out there."